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A vast majority of states require new drivers to complete a certain number of hours of practice driving prior to taking the road test.

New Jersey, however, is one of only three states which do not currently have such a requirement.

However, New Jersey lawmakers are set this week to consider a bill that would require new drivers under the age of 21 to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving prior to taking the road test.

Under the proposed bill, 10 of the hours are to be completed during hours of darkness. The parent, guardian, or the supervising driver of a permit holder is to certify that these hours of practice driving were completed.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is to suspend the driving privileges of any permit holder who submits a fraudulent certification.

The bill also requires a sample practice driving log to be included in informational brochures distributed to parents and guardians of beginning drivers under the age of 18.

The bill (A3793) is sponsored in the Assembly by Daniel Benson (D-Hamilton). It is scheduled for consideration this Thursday at the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.

There are nearly 6.4 million licensed drivers driving an average of 12,000 miles per year on 39,000 miles of roadways in New Jersey, which is the most densely populated state.

Noting that figures from the New Jersey Department of Transportation show a sharp increase in crashes involving young drivers, a coalition of driver advocates, safety groups and insurance companies have called for the Garden State to require practice driving for new drivers.

Advocates have also called for legislation to require drivers to complete the supervised driving requirement with another driver who is at least 21 and has three years of driving experience, and for a requirement that a new driver pass the road test within six months from the issue of a learners permit. These provisions are not included in the current assembly bill.

A sister bill has been introduced in the Senate (S2789). It is sponsored by Senator Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), and awaits consideration from the Senate Transportation Committee.

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